Ritvik Menon W’13/SEAS’13, interned at CB Insights in New York, NY

2011-2012 Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellowship recipient

This summer I completed a 10 week internship at CB Insights, a start-up in NYC founded by M&T alumnus Anand Sanwal. CB is a data services start-up which tracks funding info for private companies and sells their database to VCs. I heard about the opportunity through an email sent out by the M&T office. The interviews (2) were conducted over the telephone and involved one assignment which took around 6 hours of work.

I also know that I would hate to work on Wall Street, spending the rest of my life working on something meaningless that I had no passion for. I want to wake up each morning eager to start working on whatever my job entailed. The reason I wanted to work at a start-up was because I’ve always dreamt of starting my own company some day, but really didn’t know where in the world I would begin if I ever decided to found a start-up. I wanted to learn what it would be like to work at a start-up and hoped to gain the skills necessary to become a successful entrepreneur.

Overall, I had a great experience at CB Insights. Working at a small company meant that I did real work that many interns who worked at large corporations did not receive. We were put on multiple projects and always had our hands full, and some of these projects were more interesting than others. Sometimes we did do boring data work, but most of the work was much more interesting and involved. The guys at CB were really good mentors and were always willing to listen to and critique any entrepreneurial ideas that we had. We attended a few corporate events which were really good for meeting other entrepreneurs and learning more about how the start-up world worked. The hours were pretty long; it was an intensive work environment but it definitely wasn’t like banking. Weekends were free and work typically ended at 7:30 pm. I did all sorts of work: data analysis, website design, product planning, marketing plans.

The internship at CB Insights has taught me a lot about entrepreneurship and before working there I had no idea about how I would found a start-up if I wanted to. Now, however, I feel like I have the basic skills and knowledge needed to start a company, or at least take the first steps towards it. I think the summer has injected the entrepreneurial spirit in me and I hope that I can put that to good use pretty soon!

If you’re a student thinking of working at a start-up, I’d say with no hesitation go for it. Even if you know for sure that you want to get a more corporate job in the future, working at a start-up will teach you so much more than most internships at large companies could teach you. My friends who worked at large banks last summer said they learnt next to nothing – lost in the large crowd, the interns were just made to do the meaningless work that everyone else just doesn’t want to do. When you take a job at a start-up remember that there are always a million things that need to be done; take advantage of that. Identify opportunities where you think you could learn the most and ask your boss if you could work on those projects – if you’ve got creative ideas and show some passion they will most likely let you work on what you want.

Trust me. Work at a start-up. Get your hands dirty. You won’t regret it.